Employment Trends - What to Expect for 2014
by Claudia St. John, SPHR
From a human resources perspective, many of the trends we saw in 2013 will, for better or worse, be continued into the current year. The good news is that businesses are optimistic about 2014, salaries are slated to rise and many jobs that were sent overseas in decades past will be returning to our shores. The bad news is we can expect more of the frustrating shortage of skilled workers for sales and industry-specific positions.
In this regard, 2014 will be a job seeker’s market, particularly for skilled positions. And that will likely put pressure on companies to increase compensation.
Here are some trends that you can expect to see in 2014:
- A Worsening Skills Gap – It has been and will continue to be a challenge to fill experienced, industry-specific positions, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. According to CareerBuilder, despite a stubbornly high national unemployment rate, 46% of hiring managers have had positions remain open for more than a quarter of the year. Based on our own recruiting experience at Affinity HR Group, we anticipate the average time to fill positions to increase from 60 days to 120 days.
- Salaries to Rise Moderately – According to Buck Consultants, average base pay increases for 2014 are expected to be 3% – still roughly 1% below pre-recession levels. However, an increased reliance on performance pay differentiation ensures that average performers will receive less than 3% increases while a small number of high performers will receive higher-than-average pay increases. And to address the skills gap mentioned above, CareerBuilder reports that 49% of companies are expected to increase starting salaries in order to attract qualified candidates.
- Hiring For Replacement, not Growth – Just 19% of companies anticipating adding employees in 2014 (the same as in 2013), but most will be hiring to fill vacancies that are the result of attrition or of skilled employees jumping ship for better opportunities. (In 2013, voluntary turnover was up 45% from the previous year and is expected to increase further in 2014). According to CareerBuilder, hiring managers expect to recruit for the following positions:
- Part-time & Contract – Virtually all employment trends point to an increase in the use of part-time and contract workers in place of full-time employees. Hiring contract employees provides companies with flexibility to ramp up or down their workforce planning. According to CareerBuilder, 42% of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers in 2014. And to address the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 17% of employers plan to hire more part-time workers, 8% plan to cap part-time work hours and an additional 12% plan to consider taking this action, according to the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM). Also because of the ACA, 8% of companies surveyed by SHRM plan to provide incentives for employees to obtain benefits via another source, with an additional 9% considering this approach.
- Engagement is the Name of the Game – As they struggle to attract and retain experienced workers and attempt to integrate Generation Y employees (defined as workers ages 18 – 32), employers will be focusing on ways to improve employee engagement. For the first time, we see a movement away from satisfaction surveys and standard engagement techniques in favor of looking at engagement from a more holistic standpoint. According to a Deloitte Human Capital Trend report, companies are looking at their work environment, management practices, career development and benefit and recognition packages to see how they contribute to overall engagement.
As part of the engagement effort, many companies also are focusing on management training and development to address poor morale and other employee retention issues. Alas, many current managers learned their skills through watching reality TV. Untrained managers believe screaming ‘You’re fired!’ and creating volatile work environments (as seen on Restaurant Impossible for example) are legitimate management practices, which can be disastrous in this tight labor market. Accordingly, many companies are looking to introduce or revamp management training with a particular focus on both compliance (what you legally can and can’t do) and on the soft skills of managing (using sound behavioral techniques and effective feedback practices to incent and/or correct performance).
- From Social Media to Mobility – Expect the focus on social media to shift to a focus on mobile technology. Companies are now turning to mobile applications and technology, both in the workplace and in the marketplace. From sales professionals demonstrating their capabilities using mobile devices to employees using smart-phones to log time and attendance, mobile technology is here to stay. And expect to see more HR challenges managing employees’ use of this technology!
Claudia St. John is president of Affinity HR Group, LLC, IIABNY’s affiliated human resources partner. Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as IIABNY and their member companies. To learn more, visit www.affinityHRgroup.com.
Have a question?
Contact Claudia St. John, Affinity HR Group President